Thoughts on Mental Illness (my own and others)

After what has happened this week with the loss of someone I knew, who unfortunately suffered from untreated mental illness, I have had to take time to think about how mental illness affects those of us in the Hellenic Polytheist community. I like to think that we have about the same level of those illnesses as the more “mainstream” religious communities do.

But, with our traditional religion actually having oracles speaking for the Gods, I wonder if it sometimes draws to it people who convince themselves that the voices in their heads are divine instead of signalling a need for treatment. I know that in my case, as someone with TREATED schizo-affective disorder (something like a blend of bipolar and schizophrenia) that I still hear phantom voices at times and now am hearing the voice of the young lady who died this week. I know that these voices are only in my mind, but I wonder what HER voices said.

This is a difficult subject to address in one blog so soon after a triggering event, but I think it is one that we as   a community need to look at if we are to grow and prosper. We need to start training ourselves to understand the more subtle cries for help in our communities and we need to start reaching out more so that perhaps events such as the suicide of people we know does not become something that keeps people from exploring a valid path.

One thought on “Thoughts on Mental Illness (my own and others)

  1. Ann — As someone who also lost a family member to mental illness (possible suicide), I understand your feelings. I also worked as as a professional librarian for a large psychiatric hospital with an APA accredited residency programme, so I also know about the diagnoses you are writing about. In the West, it seems to me, there is more difficulty in determining what a true spiritual/religious experience is vis-a-vis a delusion/illusion. We were never taught these things while we were growing up. In addition, the tendency toward fundamentalism in the society at large would also tend to solidify any experience as being “real”. I understand the idea of the mystical god-marriage. This is a part of all mystical traditions, including Christianity (ie, St. John of the Cross, St Catherine of Sienna, St. Teresa of Avila, etc.). However, once it crosses over the line into the bizarre (children on Olympos), an intervention must be made for that person's well-being.

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